Sell American

During the boom years it felt like I was travelling to San Jose or the Bay Area every month or two. I usually flew American. Round trip was about $2200 without a Saturday stayover. I saved up my frequent flyer miles primarily for first class upgrades on these cross-country trips.

After 9/11 American cancelled a lot of flights, including the red eye from San Jose to New York that I liked to take home. (I’m typing this while waiting for a JetBlue red eye from SJC to JFK.) Once I took an American red eye that transferred in L.A. instead, but it was an absolute nightmare even though I flew first class. The plane was rescheduled without notice and I almost missed it. The gate agents were rude. I had a long walk with baggage between terminals for the plane change. Worst of all, I had to go through security twice, once in San Jose and once in L.A.

For a couple of years I took America West instead, where I could fly first class for less than coach on American. They didn’t have direct flights, but American didn’t any longer either and as long as I had to transfer I figured I might as well save the money.

However, a couple of years ago JetBlue opened up a nonstop route from JFK to San Jose, and I never looked back. The flights have more leg room than you’ll get on coach in American, plus there’s free TV; and you don’t have to change planes. On my latest trip I had enough American miles saved up that I could have flown first class on American for the price of a coach ticket. In fact, I had enough miles on Delta that I could have flown first class there too. I just would have changed in Atlanta instead of L.A. However, it simply made more sense to fly JetBlue in coach than the majors in first. That’s how bad they’ve gotten.

International flights are no better. When I’m flying internationally I try to fly on a European airlines like Air France, Virgin, or Air Italia if at all possible. They just seem to be noticeably less annoying and less uncomfortable than the American airlines, both American and others. Sometimes I’ll book a codeshare flight so my ticket says Delta, but I make damn sure the plane is flown by Air France.

Bottom line: the major airlines are in deep, deep trouble. Not only are tiddlywink airlines like JetBlue beating them on price. They’re beating them on service. They’re beating them on routes, and they’re beating them in customer satisfaction. When not-hugely price-sensitive business travellers are picking the small airlines because they like them better, there’s no hope left. Here’s my prediction: within ten years at least half of the six majors will be out of business, and the other three will have given up on domestic first and business class travel and reconfigured themselves as essentially barebones, lowcost carriers.

2 Responses to “Sell American”

  1. George Bailey Says:

    I’ve been flying American almost exclusively for years. But the last couple have been pretty crappy. Flights get cancelled, I get nickeled and dimed for everything, and just all around poor service.
    Not long ago I waiting in line for an hour and a half, and when I finally got to the counter the told me the flight was delayed four hours, and so because of my connection they’d put me on another airline. I ask if they could take care of the details for me and they said no, I’d now have to go wait in the *other* airline’s line. Amazingly, it turned out there was no wait at all, and on top of that I ended up getting to my destination a half-hour *sooner* than the scheduled American flight. That opened my eyes a bit, and then when American refused to give my miles for that trip it was the last straw. I’m done with them.

  2. julio alvarez Says:

    i worked for American Airlines .. was an airlines that had direct flights to the east until 9/11 broke out and jetblue taking over the sjc-jfk route. American couldnt compete the the low prices that Jetblue offered. Jetblue also took the route sjc-bos. Now its 9/2008 and Jet blue plans to cancel sjc-bos and you never know sjc-jfk.. Already just lost sjc-ewr with continental airlines..WIll american airlines fight to get those routes back????? i would to see on AA sjc-jfk , sjc-bos , sjc-mia and even sjc-mco … i guess time will tell..hey i miss the 757 and 767 landing at sjc and of course we all wait for our 777 to return some day on an international flight…write me at gatotuyo68 at

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